SHIVAMOGGA: Many people may say liquor consumers always get money to buy alcohol. But, this is not the case in Shivamogga now. The sale of liquor has come down in the district from the start of this fiscal to till date, something liquor vendors attributed largely to economic slowdown which is affecting the income of people in the district and elsewhere in the country.
Besides, floods that battered many parts of the district has also affected the sale of liquor.
Shivamogga district has many micro and small enterprises and artisan units which employ a large workforce. Agro, automobile, engineering and repair and servicing are major industries in the district. Automobile and engineering industries are the prominent ones among them. However, slowdown in economy has affected these industries, forcing the industries to shut or reduce working days.
Shivamogga Taluk Wine Merchants' Association president C M Gowda told The New Indian Express that liquor shops across the district have been incurring losses for the last three months due to the decrease in consumption of liquor. "The reason is simple. People don't have money," he said.
Gowda said that the economic policies of the Centre have resulted in job losses in many sectors. "Many sectors in Shivamogga district are also affected due to this. Many people have no work to do and are struggling to find new jobs to make ends meet. Farming sector is also affected in the district due to flood as well as drought. Many crops, including chilli, should have been harvested by now. But, this year farmers have suffered loss and have no money to spend on alcohol consumption. So, our business has come down by 50%," he said.
Thippeswamy, owner of a wine shop, said that daily wage workers, many of who consume alcohol, do not have jobs due to the halt of construction work. "A person who used to consume a quarter bottle (180 ml) of liquor, is now consuming only 90 ml. When asked, he says he does not have money for a bottle of 180 ml. Earlier, daily wage workers would consume liquor early in the morning before they go to work. Now, they are coming to our liquor shop in the evening to consume liquor. They can afford for liquor only once a day instead of twice," he said.
Thippeswamy also said that flood has affected people as they could not find jobs. "There is no construction work due to rainfall. Agriculture labourers also have no job due to either flood or drought," he said. A worker at a liquor shop said, "Some customers who would buy a 180 ml of liquor of a premium brand by paying Rs 163 are now buying the same quantity of cheaper brand liquor at Rs 92," he said.
But official data show a different picture. The Excise Department could not achieve its sales target this time, but there still has been growth, though modest.
While the department has set a sales target of 20 per cent growth, it could achieve only eight per cent growth. A total of 7,88,414 cases of liquor were sold from April to August and it has fallen off the target by 19,414 cases.
However, the sale of beer has increased by 12,377 cases when compared to last year. But, the sources said the sale of beer is not considered as an achievement of target of sale by the Excise Department.
"Flood is also one of the reasons for the decline in the sale of liquor as the people could not come out to consume liquor," said deputy commissioner of the department Mohan.